Robert Kleinman, chairman of AFA Protective Systems Inc., and Richard Kleinman, COO, reported $67 million in revenue for 2006 for AFA Protective.

AFA Protective is thought to be the oldest surviving alarm company in the United States.

In 1873, William B. Watkins, a designer of fire sensors and monitoring systems, launched the first private fire alarm company in the country. Automatic Signal Telegraph Company, later known as Automatic Fire Alarm Company, was incorporated in New York in 1882. Today, the Syosset, N.Y.-based company is the oldest surviving alarm company in the country and goes by the name AFA Protective Systems Inc. (“AFA”), reflecting both its history and its expanded service capabilities. So how has AFA been able to survive all these years?

After complex anti-trust suits broke up the wholly owned subsidiaries of Grinnell — ADT, Holmes and AFA were split into separate entities. It was about this time in 1968 when the Kleinman family acquired a substantial interest in AFA. In the 1980s the Kleinman family was able to convince the government to lift the restrictions on anti-trust violators, allowing AFA, and eventually its siblings (ADT and Holmes), to make acquisitions. The company, still public, has grown steadily and remained profitable ever since.

“We are the oldest surviving alarm company for a few reasons. We believe our most important asset is our existing customer base,” related Robert Kleinman, chairman of AFA. He emphasized that the company is not afraid to use all means at its disposal to protect its customer base.

Another reason for growth is that about 15 years ago AFA made a conscious decision to expand the company outside of the Northeast where it was confined for more than 100 years.

The catalyst came in the 1990s when one of the company’s largest national accounts asked AFA if it could do business in the Atlanta area. That spawned the opening of the Atlanta branch, as well as the company’s National Accounts Division. Then came branch offices in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Ohio. “Today, national accounts is responsible for just under 50 percent of our new sales,” Kleinman said.

AFA reported a strong $67 million in revenue for 2006, up by $2 million over 2005. The company’s annual recurring revenue is nearly $27 million. The company employs more than 470 people across the United States. Kleinman also said that in recent years AFA has upgraded its management team and sales force while increasing employee training, all of which has enhanced its ability to bring in new business and revenue. Learn more about AFA Protective Systems Inc.